Richard Drury:

Gizela Šabóková - Increasingly Opaque Objects Standing in the View

It was once said that the history of art is also the history of the human body. Since the dawn of civilisation it has been the most natural thing to consider the bodily form the ultimate focal point of one’s reflections – initially in existential terms, as part of magical rites, later in formally religious terms, philosophically, socially, and in the modern age politically as well. In identifying ourselves with the figurative object we are at the same time identifying with something contained within ourselves.

At this exhibition, Gizela Šabóková presents us with two sculptures representing not only a significant step in her development but also a cleansing return to the core of plastic expression. It is a well-known fact about the artist that although she graduated from the most influential Czech glassmaking studio of Professor Stanislav Libenský, she always succeeded in achieving her own expression and message, doing so with intense manual and spiritual involvement.

We see before us a human couple, the symbolic beginning of our species. We see two torsos as stark as lone-standing monoliths. In their simplicity stemming from carefulness, thoughtfulness, understanding and patience it is impossible to overlook a moral dimension in which both mortal corporeality and sublime spirituality are fully manifested. Their strongly emphasised vertical axis itself embodies a powerful range of symbolic meanings: fragility, organic growth as well as the imaginary upward stream of human contemplation.

While earlier the morphology of Gizela Šabóková’s glass sculptures was derived chiefly from the cast form with additional cutting, her latest works are, on the contrary, largely the result of carving into the glass mass. It can be said without exaggeration that the exhibited works are the outcome of a painstaking and exhausting struggle with the heavy and surprisingly unyielding material of glass. The energy that the artist invested into the creation of these works is by no means only physical; it is also to a large extent mental energy devoted to searching for the essence of artistic principles – possibly also the essence of everything.

At first glance, the grey tones of these massive glass forms seem somewhat austere, somewhat cold. Closer acquaintance with their animated outward structure and restrained inward play of light hues, however, brings with it the heartening realisation that we are, on the contrary, attracted to them, invited to participate in a dialogue about light and about dark, about our movement in time and about the relationship of one person to another. Light doesn’t pass through these sculptures easily or opulently. Their captivating presence consists not only in their translucency but also in the fact that they arrest light within them, swallowing it up as if seeking to retain some inner mystery for themselves, deep inside their bodies. In this way, similar to the human soul itself, the sculpture half-reveals and half-conceals itself.

With these ‘increasingly opaque objects standing in the view’, the artist has made an important move, perhaps transcending once and for all the glass wall of the imaginary glassmaking ghetto. She understands her material and knows how to work it as perfectly as a consummate sculptor understands and knows how to work any other material with its own unique qualities.

In their torso-like form, Gizela Šabóková’s sculptures speak all the more completely about human existence; in their silence one feels all the more expressive a statement, both at a personal and universal level. And we are glad that we can be among them.

Richard Drury

Curator of Sculpture

The Czech Museum of Fine Arts, Prague


Gizela Šabóková,

born 1952, in Nové Zámky, Czechoslovakia

lives and works in Prague and North Bohemia


1967 - 69 Vocational School of Cesky Kristal Works Chlum u Trebone, Czechoslovakia

1969 - 73 Secondary Glassmakers School of Applied Arts in Zelezny Brod, Czechoslovakia.

1973 - 79 Academy of Applied Arts, Prague,Czechoslovakia, atelier of Professor Stanislav Libensky

since 1979 she works freelance artist

Solo Exhibitions:

1985 - Galerie Karolina, Prague, CZ

1988 - Galerie Gottschalk-Betz, Frankfurt a. M., D.

1988 - Glasmuseum Immenhausen, D

1989 - Museum of the City of Brno, CZ.

1990 - Clara Scremini Gallery, Paris, F.

1991 - Sanske Galerie, Zurich, CH.

1992 - Galerie VIA ART, Prague, CZ.

1993 - Glasgalerie Hittfeld, Seevetal bei Hamburg, D.

1994 - Museum Van der Togt, Amstelveen, Amsterdam, NL.

1994 - Transparence Gallery, Bruxelles, B.

1995 - Museum of Glass, Jablonec, CZ.

1995 - Galerie VIA ART, Praha, CZ.

1996 - National Museum, Palace of Lobkowitz's, Prague Castle, CZ

1996 - Galerie Hartmann & Noé, Berlin, D.

1996 - Galerie "Art du Verre" Luxembourg, L.

1998 - Galerie Hartmann & Noé, Berlin, D.

1998 - D'Arte & Divetro, Bergamo, I.

1999 - Galerie Gambit, Praha, CZ.

1999 - Chappell Gallery, Boston, USA

2000 - J.C.Chapelotte Galerie, Luxembourg,L.

2000 - Chappell Gallery New York, N.Y., USA

2001 - D`Arte & Divetro, Bergamo + Venezia, I.

2002 - SOFA - Chicago, Galeria Contemporana Catarina Tognon, I.

Public Collections:

Museum of Applied Arts, Prague, CZ.

Musée des arts décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, Paris, F.

Nord Bohemian Museum,Liberec, CZ.

Moravian Gallery of the City of Brno, CZ.

Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, N.Y. U.S.A.

Ulster Museum, Belfast, N.IR Ebeltoft International Glass Museum, DK.

Museum of the City of Brno, CZ.

Glasmuseum Immenhausen, D.

Musée des arts décoratifs de la ville de Lausanne, CH.

National Museum in Wroclaw, PL.

Lemberg, castle in Northen Bohemia,CZ.

Jokohama Museum of Modern Art, Jokohama, J.

Musée des arts décoratifs de la ville de Gent, Gent, B.

Museum Van der Togt, Amstelveen, Amsterdam, NL.

Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Sapporo, J.

Museum of Glass, Jablonec, CZ.

Takasaki Museum of Art, Takasaki, J.

Glassmuseum Alter Hof Herding - Glasscollection Ersting, D.

East Bohemian Museum in Pardubice, CZ.

Musée du Verre, Sars-Poteries, F.

Toyama Muzeum of Art, Toyama City, J.

Koganezaki Glass Muzeum, J.

American Craft Museum, N.Y., U.S.A.

Chrysler Museum of Art, U.S.A.

The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, U.S.A.

Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Texas, U.S.A.

Private Collections:

In Germany, France, Luxemburg, U.S.A., Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republik

Pedagogic Activity:

Sheridan College, Oakville, Toronto, CND.

Espace Verre, Montreal, CND.

Centre del Vidre de Barcelona, Barcelona, SP.

Pilchuck Glass School, Washington, USA.

Atelier du Verre de Sars-Poteries, F


1982 - Jugendgestaltet, München, D.

1982 - III th Quadrienale Erfurt, D.

1994 - Masaryk's Academy Price, Prague, CZ.

1997 - Salvador Dali Award, Prague, CZ.

2000 - GRAND PRIZE - “Vessels“, Koganezaki Glass Muzeum, J.

Musée des arts décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, Paris, F.